So let’s say that you have this great client and they have a big project for you. You complete it on time while exceeding their expectations, so they’re very happy. They pay you / your company, you thank each other and then head off in different directions.
Is that it? Next time they have a similar job available, what’s to stop them from overlooking you and going to your competitor to get it done?
Many companies thrive on repeat business, and it’s getting harder and harder to gain new clients, so it’s essential to maintain communication and keep the professional relationship going. This not only boosts your reputation, but it also increases your chances of getting recommended to others.
Here are some best practices for keeping in touch with past clients:
Give them the occasional call or email them once in a while.
The communication tool that you choose to contact them with depends on your relationship with them and how you’ve contacted them in the past. Calls are usually more effective, but a friendly email now and again can also be welcome and is less intrusive than a phone call.
It helps if you have something specific to talk to them about (avoid contacting them out of the blue). So if they have a special occasion coming up, like a birthday or anniversary, then that’s a good reason to reach out. You could also invite them to a company event.
Connect with them through professional networks.
This is one of the best ways to keep in touch without being too pushy. Add them as a friend/connection on LinkedIn, Google+ or a membership-based site that you’re both a part of. If you happen to have a very good relationship with them, reaching out to them via Facebook is not a bad idea.
Keeping in contact with them through online networks will enable you to see all their news and updates that they want to share, which you can like or comment on to show that you care.
Send them a card or gift on special occasions.
This is something my parents do in their business and it works out quite well for them. They mail personalized calendars and diaries around Christmas or New Year’s, and for high-profile clients, they send things like wine/champagne, expensive edibles, professional stationery sets, etc.
But whatever you send doesn’t have to be expensive, especially if you order in bulk. What’s important is that the gift is useful and shows that you put some thought into it. If you go the card route, make it a memorable and/or personal one.
Offer them free advice or guidance when needed.
Don’t forget about your clients once you get paid. Follow up and ask if they need advice on something and don’t hesitate to help when they reach out for a consultation.
Do this within reason though. You don’t want them getting used to free resources and then coming to you all the time with problems and expecting not to pay!
- Be sincere in all your communications. One way to show that you are genuine is to remember some details about your client—like if they have kids or if they’ve recently traveled abroad—and then bring these up as a talking point.
- Address them by their first name if you are on friendly terms, but don’t forget to keep it professional at all times.
- Make a gesture; for example, if you come across an article that you think would interest or be of value to them, don’t be afraid to pass it along. Similarly, if they’ve recently written a blog post and no one has engaged with it, write an insightful comment to show them that you’re paying attention.
- After completing work for client, let them know that you’ll be in touch to see how everything is going (with the product, etc.). This way, they won’t be surprised when they receive your call or email later on.
Do you have some suggestions for keeping in touch with past clients? Let us know in the comments.